At a time when more and more transactions are being done online and at higher speed, the need to streamline corporate purchasing procedures has never been more important — or potentially lucrative — to the bottom line.
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, companies eager to find simple ways to boost efficiency and drive earnings can do so with accounts payable (AP) automation, CEO Jack Mulloy of procure-to-pay provider BuyerQuest told PYMNTS.
“[Companies] can be more aggressive or thoughtful around driving their top line, or they can be more aggressive or thoughtful about reducing expenses,” Mulloy said. “I think that accounts payable automation and the benefits that come from electronic payments is kind of an easy lift.”
Mulloy said there are lots of ways companies can be more automated with respect to procurement, a goal the current economic environment has only made more desirable.
“From a procure-to-pay perspective, the way companies buy is oftentimes pretty disjointed by both process and systems,” he said. “We see a lot of opportunity for companies to really rally around a more Amazon-like buying experience.”
By that, he means focusing on a platform where companies procure or request all goods and services within a single user interface similar to what Amazon offers retail consumers.
“B2C commerce has always been and probably always will be out in front of B2B eCommerce, but we’re doing our best to close that gap as best we can,” Mulloy said.
His comments come in the wake of BuyerQuest’s recent launch of a new payment module within its existing procure-to-pay suite. Not only is his company aiming to emulate Amazon, but Malloy said it’s partnering with Amazon Business to work on enhancing the lagging B2B eCommerce space.
Creating Seamless Procure-to-Pay
BuyerQuest sees much of the procure-to-pay sector’s current payments and last-mile systems as manual, resource-intensive, and prone to errors or fraud.
But Mulloy said the company has tried to take the exact opposite approach of most traditional procurement providers by rejecting a process called “punch out.” That’s where most things are available for purchase outside of the usual procurement system.
“What we did at BuyerQuest is kind of flipped it and followed much more closely what Amazon had done,” he said.
The company brought everything into one place from a procurement perspective, with the objective of driving efficiency and flexibility around how people order, as well as how suppliers get paid.
Mulloy said the best way to make that happen is to give buyers and sellers the same payment flexibility that consumers get when they shop online.
“We can use PayPal or ApplePay or credit cards or whatever it may be,” he said.
He said that even includes virtual cards, which he called “a good option for a certain segment of suppliers. … They’re certainly not going to be a fit for all suppliers [or] all things that are procured within a marketplace, but that's why you have other options.”
On the other side of the equation, allowing suppliers to say how they prefer to accept payments is equally important.
“Giving all parties options, I think, is the best way to drive high adoption,” Mulloy said.
Be Scalable or Die
BuyerQuest has typically dealt with large enterprise-sized procure-to-pay projects, but Mulloy said he’s “starting to see more and more opportunity in the [small- to medium-sized business] SMB space as well.”
After all, this at a time when most companies are moving toward self-service applications that entire workforces — even tens of thousands of employees — can easily navigate.
But whether procurement involves SMBs or giant corporations, Mulloy said there are lots of ways that improving the procure-to-pay process can pay off for customers.
He said it’s no longer the old days, where purchasing platforms were “clunky,” limited to only a handful of users and any fix that wasn’t easily scalable would be “dead on arrival.”